We know, we know – artists using nature as their inspiration isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. But it’s Earth Day, it’s a beautiful Spring day here in the Twin Cities, and we’re reflecting on some of our favorite MN Original artists whose love and interest for the environment has shown through in their work. From Kate Casanova’s mushroom furniture, to Steve Heitzeg’s musical eco-scores, to Gregory Euclide’s incorporation of collected trash, we think these artists are incorporating their love for nature in some truly fascinating, inspiring, and beautiful ways.
Unconventional brushes, collected trash and a malleable canvas are tools in Painter Gregory Euclide’s work.
Award-winning public artist and arts educator Kinji Akagawa shares the stories behind three of his sculptural constructions.
Environmental encroachment and global warming are themes in Andrea Martin’s hand cut paper art.
Visual artist and amateur ecologist Kate Casanova unearths unique intersections between art and the natural world.
We catch up with Emmy-Award winning composer Steve Heitzeg at his home in St. Paul to learn the secrets of his songwriting process.
The gates for the Great Minnesota Get Together don’t open for another couple days, but Minnesota arts fans already have plenty to get excited about: 2013 Fine Arts Competition winners were announced at last night’s Fine Arts Preview Night. With all of the winners’ art collected under one roof at the Fine Arts Center, the State Fair actually serves as Minnesota’s largest juried art exhibit. This year, part of the Fine Arts Center will also be turned from gallery into a studio space as part of Studio: HERE, which will provide a rare glimpse into how art is created. MNO alumni are well-represented between Studio: HERE participants and Fine Arts Competition winners. We’ve got a video round-up of MNO alumni and 2013 Fine Arts Competition winners at the bottom of this page. To get more perspective on the State Fair’s Fine Arts exhibition, we spoke with Kyle Fokken, who was featured on MN Original #317, and also received a 3rd Place Award in Sculpture this year.
MNO:What have your experiences participating in the Fine Arts exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair been like?
Kyle Fokken: I love the Minnesota State Fair Art Show! I think there is so much wonderful variety that it hits so many tastes and styles. You never know who the juror is and what he or she will think of your work and whether it will make it in the exhibition. The visual arts community (at least in the metro) is a small community and everyone knows most everyone else and/or their work, making it a politically challenging exercise. I think this is my third “Third Place” award which makes me pleased, but I’d still like something higher.
As an artist, you always feel that your work is the best until you see work that blows yours out of the water and demands your respect. I always learn something new whenever I go and I appreciate the opportunity to show with so many great artists of all disciplines.
MNO: What does this award mean to you?
KF: Gas in the car and money to pay the photographer. If you are lucky or want to splurge, you can pay it forward and use it as an opportunity to buy someone else’s artwork. Being a working artist means that you celebrate the victory of winning an award but at the end of the day you need those funds to help you to keep on doing what you’re doing. With my piece “Song of the Flying Dutchman,” I would love it to be the centerpiece of someone’s lovely home or as part of a public art collection in an art or musical institution. It is one of my favorite pieces and I just love the romance that comes with the merger of classical music, sailing ships and the open sea. I have a ‘violin’ version in bronze in case anyone is interested. Please see my website for details – www.kylefokken.com. (Shameless plug, of course.)
MNO: How is showing at the Minnesota State Fair different than any other ‘arts only’ shows?
KF: I think it is very egalitarian from both the artists and the viewer’s perspective. In most art shows you have to have a body of work to submit whereas the Fair only allows for one piece. This allows beginners and professionals to compete side by side and mixes things up a bit which keeps the event fresh. I also like the idea that there is truly something for everyone. This exhibit allows me to show my work to a larger audience who may never have been to an art show or would never venture into a gallery. It also allows viewers to visually ‘taste’ a variety of different artistic ‘flavors’ and develop a richer ‘pallet’ and better artist ‘taste’.
It’s always hard to know if this sampling will lead to sales, but I look at it as part of my overall marketing strategy since so many people see the show and it is highly regarded in the artistic community. Best of all, it’s free!
MNO Alumni & 2013 Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Award Recipients
Maren Kloppmann (from MN Original #109): 1st Place, Ceramics/Glass; 1st place from Northern Clay Center; 1st Place from Tweed Museum of Art